CAISO joins cross-collaborative initiative to strengthen power sector’s approach to climate risks

By Amber Motley, Director, Short Term Forecasting |

I am very excited that the California Independent System Operator (ISO) will be participating in a new, three-year global research initiative designed to create and provide grid operators, utilities, regulators and policymakers the most comprehensive framework available to help establish a more resilient power system as we continue to experience an increase in extreme weather events.

Using the power of collaboration and shared information, this initiative seeks to develop clear strategies for managing climate uncertainty, making smart investments in risk mitigation tools, and remaining nimble and adaptable while building upon current resilience practices.

Established by EPRI, an independent, non-profit energy research and development institute, the new program goes by the name Climate READi. It stands for the Climate Resilience and Adaptation initiative, and the program is seen as one of the most comprehensive, integrated approaches yet to deal with climate risk assessments across the power sector.

EPRI has extensive experience in the field and is using its ability for convening global thought leaders and scientific researchers to develop an industry-accepted, risk-informed approach to physical climate risk assessment and resilience planning.

The ISO is a longstanding member of EPRI and sees tremendous benefit in utilizing this initiative to better plan for and mitigate the impacts of climate-related risks to reliability. It’s exciting to think about the benefits that can come from the ISO being part of this new cross-collaborative initiative. Among other things, since we will be sharing Climate READi research and data with our partners in state government, including the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission, there is tremendous value in making those already strong relationships even stronger when it comes to dealing with climate change and its impact on the grid.

We know all too well that extreme climate-related events are occurring more frequently in California and across the West. By being able to tap into research and data from the smartest climate experts in the world, this new partnership can be a great benefit to the work the ISO does regarding transmission planning, resource adequacy, and making sure we get the best information about the impact climate change is having on resources and grid operations as we continue transitioning to the carbon-free grid required under California Senate Bill 100.

When the Climate READi program was launched earlier this year, EPRI announced it was forming a technical workgroup with the goal of strengthening the power sector’s collective approach to managing climate risk with three concurrent work streams as its focus:

  • Creating a climate data inventory that results in a common approach with published guidance and educational resources for using climate data for specific power system assets and system vulnerability assessments, including how to treat the inherent uncertainty in climate variables. On this effort, EPRI is already partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is working to get additional assistance from the World Meteorological Organization and National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
  • Establishing a common approach to risk mitigation thresholds on the impacts to energy grid assets and the integrated power system. In addition to working to provide a consistent approach to energy system and asset vulnerability assessments to inform future investments, a key part of this effort is to better understand how existing assets that have been in service for decades can better withstand future extreme events and to identify and assess potential adaptation and mitigation strategies.
  • Agreeing on a set of adaptation strategies for specific climate impacts while maintaining a reliable, resilient and affordable power system for consumers. The final framework will drive consensus on resilience metrics to be used in helping to determine investment decisions.

Climate READi will also include training for energy practitioners on using climate data, along with providing educational resources on the climate data that is available, with the training on climate data more tailored to those within the resource and transmission planning spaces.

Because of the collaborative nature of the Climate READi program, it can be valuable to many of the ISO’s partners. Information sharing is key for successful implementation of the pillars of physical climate data and guidance, energy system and asset vulnerability assessment, and resilience and adaption planning and prioritization within the state of California and in the West.

This is an ambitious program designed to identify the full range of resources available to get us all on a better path for managing the power system. The ISO and its forecasting team are excited to be part of it. We look forward to working closely with our partners at the state agencies, utilities and with our other stakeholders to help implement Climate READi as effectively as possible.

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